Case Study Research Design

scrabble blocks spelling the word Research
Two tutorials on Case Study Research Design are now available.

Two tutorials on Case Study Research Design are now available.

Case studies are frequently used in research and occasionally used loosely.  However, case studies have a unique nature, logic and a versatile design. 

Two new tutorials are now available guiding you through  what case studies are and how to design the case study research. For instance, the tutorials explain which types of research questions this method is most suited to and which four elements need to be included.

The tutorials are available here.

CV season: Aviod sily miStacks

As you hurtle towards the end of the semester and the end of your studies, many of you will be working on your job applications.  While companies increasingly use on line applications forms, the traditional CV is still usually part of your dossier. 

Barclays Bank runs a Life Skills platform to help guide those entering professional life and a recent contributing article lists the most common CV mistakes made.  Quite a surprising number are basic: spelling mistakes, unprofessional colours or fonts,  no dates or specifics, incorrect personal details. 


More challenging is how to avoid the generic: Like everyone else you will want to claim you’re a team player and reliable.  But this can sound as though you’ve copy-pasted it from a template.  Ideally, try to supply specific information (previously accomplished tasks or projects) that illustrate you are a team player. And pay close attention to what the potential employer is asking for. React specifically to their text.

A CV is so important that it’s a good investment to seek professional help. FHNW School of Business students can access the Career Services including personal consultations and of course FHNW Writing Hub can also support you with the actual formulation.

The Boom of Essay mills

This company offers to write your paper for you so that “you do not have the stress” of doing so. There is no mention that their product is against regulations of most universities/colleges.

Indications are that students are increasingly turning to the so-called essay mills to write their scientific papers and essays. A recent large-scale study concluded up to 15% of students had (admitted to) paying for someone else to write their work and a university vice chancellor has called on governments to regulate as these businesses become ever more aggressive in their advertising. Students are targeted via social media offering to write to order at as little as £7 (CHF 9 per page).

Concern about the burgeoning essay mills industry is increasingly preoccupying education and college regulators. In recent months, there have been calls and actions in the USA, the UK, Kenya, New Zealand and Ireland to legislate against or ban these ghost writers from providing or advertising their services.

Students run the risk of severe penalties, including being ex-matriculated or having their degree titles revoked. Essay mills advertise there will be no plagiarism in the paper supplied – but of course the entire paper is plagiarism (i.e. the theft of someone else’s work – in this case, the work of the essay mill writer). And the quality of the work delivered varies widely from gibberish to passable. If discovered the repercussions are huge (e.g. the high profile court case where parents paid eye-watering sums for ghost-written college entrance exams.)

Universities are rightfully concerned. The software used by most universities (including the FHNW) detects similarity in a paper to content elsewhere. It cannot usually spot a ghost-written paper. The indicators for an essay-mill production lie more within detecting whether it is consistent with a student’s style and previous production.

Various developments to ban essay mills from operating, advertising or receiving payment are under way as the booming practice undermines the quality and reputation of universities and their degrees.

Decoding job vacancy texts

A job ad for a communications manager which shows up in the decoder as being male-biased.

Do the texts in job vacancies impact whether men or women apply? An article in The Guardian argues that recent advertisements for headteacher posts show clear textual biases, so-called gendered language. An example is the wording in a current ad which looks for applicants with “relentless drive, energy and ambition”.

A former headteacher, Vivienne Porritt, found there was significant “gendered language” in ads she has been analysing. “She believes words such as “driven” and “ambitious” – especially when repeated within a three or four-paragraph job advert – are a turn-off for women seeking to apply for senior roles.”

The New York Times published an article on research of 50 million job ads which found that phrasing of job ads was very much still gender-driven.

If you’re phrasing a job advertisement, you might want to use the decoder to check whether your text overly emphasises male or female requirements.

Scientific editing: a many-level task

Editing an English language document (B42ART)

Editing your paper or article has to be done at different levels.  Dawn Field wrote on the Oxford University Press (OUP) blog this week that there are four main stages:

  1. Scientific editing
  2. Developmental (or structural) editing
  3. Line editing
  4. Proof editing

Most important is the scientific editing where, among others, there is the “determination of the value of the scientific content”, whether the targeting is correct, whether there’s enough evidence to support the interpretations, whether the argumentation is logical.

Read Dawn’s full blog post here

Key success factor of good writing: Organisation

Organisation is key success factor

The key success factor of a good text is good language. Right?

Not necessarily so. Many texts I see, be they research papers, journal articles or theses, contain some pretty impressive vocabulary and have complex sentences which are mostly grammatically correct. However, often they do not make sense. It’s a challenge to understand the messages and, as a reader, I am soon lost in a convoluted labyrinth of words. While all the correct words are in place , there is a lack of structure, organization and navigation. Too often we as writers are so focused on making sure we cover the numerous chunks of information we’ve found that we fail to orientate out readers, take them by the hand, and carefully guide them through our argumentation.

You need outlines. I swear by outlines.  At the start of your project you will be buzzing with ideas


Schreibend durch den Schreibprozess

Checkliste Schreibprozess

Was bedeutet Schreiben für Sie? Ist es das Niederschreiben Ihrer Ergebnisse? Das Schreiben des Textes, den Sie einreichen oder publizieren? Oder verstehen Sie unter Schreiben mehr?

Potential des Schreibens nutzen

Den Begriff «Schreibprozess» verstehen viele Schreibende als denjenigen Prozess, den sie durchlaufen, um einen Text zu verfassen. Dabei fokussieren sie sich auf die Verschriftlichung von Gedanken und Informationen, die sie zuvor gesammelt, gelesen und ausgewertet haben. Nach dem Schreiben kommt die Überarbeitung – für viele heisst das Weiterlesen

Schreiben auch für die Suchmaschine

Google mit überwältigendem Marktanteil

Publizieren Sie elektronisch? Zum Beispiel Inhalte auf einer Webseite, einer Plattform, in einem Blog oder Forum? Vermutlich schon, da heute kaum noch Texte ausschliesslich für den Druck verfasst werden. Im Regelfall erscheinen Texte sowohl gedruckt als auch online, zunehmend nur noch online. Deshalb schreiben wir heutzutage meist auch für die Suchmaschine. Wir sprechen von «der» Weiterlesen

Verständlichkeit wissenschaftlicher Texte

Ein kritischer (Rück)Blick auf die Sprache der Wissenschaft

Ergebnisse aus der Schreib-Forschung

Ein Forschungsteam aus Schweden hat 710 000 Abstracts aus 123 wissenschaftlichen Zeitschriften auf Verständlichkeit geprüft. Das Ergebnis lautet: Die Wortwahl wird komplizierter, und die Zugänglichkeit wissenschaftlicher Texte nimmt ab. Die untersuchten Texte sind Weiterlesen

Gute Texte – wirksam und leicht zu lesen

Gemeinsam zu guten Texten

«Kundenorientierung» auch beim Schreiben

Vielleicht denken Sie: «Was gute Texte sind, das ist doch Ansichtssache.» – Sie haben recht und liegen gleichzeitig völlig falsch. Texte wirken nicht auf alle gleich. Derselbe Text kann bei einer Leserin auf Zustimmung und bei einer anderen auf Ablehnung stossen. Das hat mit der Disposition der Lesenden und mit dem Textinhalt zu tun. Was aber gute Texte ausmacht, das ist bekannt. Die Schwierigkeit liegt nicht in der Unkenntnis, Weiterlesen